On Friday, fans can expect to see a new face in the Guardians‘ dugout.
Prospect Nolan Jones was called up from Triple-A Columbus and could give him some time in the outfield this weekend.
Jones, a 2016 second-round pick, was batting .311 with Columbus through 23 games so far.
It appears all part of Cleveland’s plan to see what the club has heading forward; we’ve already seen Oscar Mercado fall casualty to that plan this season.
But Jones’ call-up has to have fans wondering who else the Guardians could call up before this season’s end.
It’s customary for teams to bring up promising prospects on the cusp of promotion in September to give them a taste of the future.
Who might the Guardians tap next?
Bo Naylor, Catcher
The Guardians need a catcher.
Unfortunately, so does essentially every single team in baseball that doesn’t have JT Realmuto or Will Smith behind the plate.
More bad news: Wilson Contreras figures to be the best catcher available at the trade deadline.
And you can bet good money the Chicago Cubs will see that bidding war all the way through to get the most for their prized backstop.
Fortunately, the Guardians have Bo Naylor.
#Guardians 22yr old (C) prospect Bo Naylor hits one off the foul pool for his 3rd home run with Triple-A Columbus! Naylor is not hitting .319 over his first 13 games with the Clippers and has 9 HR's overall on the season.@_BoNaylor_ @CLBClippers #ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/pi5ND1RyTW
— Guardians Prospective (@CleGuardPro) July 7, 2022
Once upon a time, Naylor was a long shot to make it to the majors.
So how is he already on the precipice of a call-up?
A major improvement, that’s how.
In 2021, Naylor was dreadful, hitting .189 for Akron.
But so far in 2022, Naylor has put those problems squarely in the rearview.
With Triple-A Columbus, Naylor is slashing .300/.410/.560, with three homers and 11 RBIs through 13 games.
Further, Naylor is highly athletic, with 12 stolen bases so far this season, which explains this write-up from MLB.com:
“He’s quicker and more athletic than most backstops and has become adept at receiving, framing and blocking pitches. His solid arm strength enabled him to throw out 31 percent of basestealers last season.”
So the Guardians need a catcher, and Naylor is waiting in the wings.
Seems like an easy decision, right?
Not so fast.
It’s apparently going to take a lot for Manager Terry Francona to lose faith in Cleveland’s current backstop Austin Hedges.
Hedges, while offensively nonexistent, is an excellent defender, and the pitching staff generally does better when he suits up.
Throwing Naylor in might give the team a boost, but he’ll need to build up chemistry and rapport with pitchers, and that only comes with time.
Logan Allen, LHP
Another tradition of call-up season is giving future big-league starting pitchers a few innings of work.
And Logan Allen might be the next name to do so.
So far this season, Allen owns a 4.29 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a .233 average.
Allen came over to the Guardians in the Trevor Bauer trade; MLB.com provided the following analysis of the lefty:
“One of the most polished pitchers in the 2020 college class, Allen expertly mixes three pitches, the best of which is a plus low-80s changeup with fade and sink that’s effective against both left-handers and right-handers.”
If the Guardians’ current woes continue, expect Cleveland to make a few deals to better position themselves in the long-term.
That might include shipping off another pitcher, like Zach Plesac.
Updated Cleveland Guardians prospects the top 100:
Daniel Espino (11)
George Valera (33)
Gavin Williams (79)
Gabriel Arias (81)
Brayan Rocchio (86)
Tyler Freeman (87)
Logan Allen (100)
— Jram4MVP (@Reynolds2CLE) July 8, 2022
But lest fans be worried about moving yet another starter, there could be better options in the offing, including Daniel Espino and Gavin Williams.
But first, expect Logan Allen to get some time, especially if the staff wants to look at its future pitching options.